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Future Workforce Report: New data reveals over half of IT managers are relying on freelance talent

As tech hiring gets harder and demand for technical skills continues to increase, IT teams are exploring new ways to find and engage talent

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - August 1, 2017 -Upwork, the largest freelancing website, today released new data from IT manager respondents to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report. Findings show that the tech talent shortage remains an acute challenge for businesses. As they struggle to access the specialized skills they need, companies are turning towards freelance talent to reduce hiring friction. For an overview of the IT results, see this infographic.

According to the report, technical skills remain the hardest to fill, with the average time-to-hire at 40 days for tech roles, compared to 30 days for other skills. And many tech jobs are never filled.  By 2018, it’s projected that 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled in the U.S. In fact, the newly released Q2 2017 Skills Index underscores that technical skills are the most in-demand accounting for nearly two-thirds (65%) of the fastest-growing skills. Companies are needing to move quickly to access these highly skilled professionals.

“The tech talent gap has reached a crisis point,” said Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel. “Companies are struggling with a widening tech skills gap, particularly in areas such as AI, IoT and robotics. The shortage of skilled tech professionals has become a major concern for companies. To help bridge the gap, companies are innovating their talent strategies by leveraging freelancers with the specialized skills they need to develop new technologies.”

Key takeaways from the Future Workforce IT Report data include:

  • Hiring got harder - Three times (41 percent) as many IT managers felt hiring got harder in the past year versus 14 percent who felt it got easier.
  • Teams depend on access to talent - A majority (75 percent) of IT managers agree that their department’s success depends on getting access to the right talent.
  • Teams embrace location independence - Seventy-eight percent of IT managers have someone on their team who works a significant portion of their time remotely. Technology has made being in the office less of a factor when hiring new team members, with only 1 in 10 IT managers saying location is important to a new team member’s success.
  • Teams are hiring freelancers - Over half (53 percent) of IT managers are utilizing freelancers. The top reasons for hiring freelancers are to scale to meet project needs (66 percent) and to find skills not currently available in-house (51 percent).

IT teams are leveraging freelancers to increase efficiencies and drive innovation

Freelancers help teams get more done81 percent of IT managers said utilizing freelancers helped them get more done, while 50 percent said freelancers helped them quickly and efficiently scale their teams to support project demands.

Leveraging freelancers helps companies create new opportunities that would otherwise not exist. In fact, if they had been unable to hire a freelancer, 90 percent of IT managers said they would have been forced to delay, cancel or extend project workloads. Technology is changing how teams get work done77 percent of IT managers agree that technology is changing how their team finds and works with talent.

Furthermore, 68 percent of IT managers agree that hiring online will soon become common. The majority (76 percent) of IT managers agree that companies who don’t evolve their hiring strategies are at a competitive disadvantage, and over half (58%) say freelancers will be part of their long term strategy.

About Upwork’s Future Workforce Report

The Future Workforce Report was conducted by independent research firm Inavero. This is the first year the study has been conducted and first ever release of IT-specific data. More than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers, including over 200 IT managers, were surveyed through a third-party, independent online sample. The study has an overall margin of error of ±3.09% at a 95% level of confidence.

About Upwork

Upwork is the world’s largest freelancing website. Upwork Pro, a premium talent sourcing service, helps businesses identify top talent quicker by providing access to hand-picked, pre-screened freelancers for long-term project needs.Twenty percent of Fortune 500 companies and other notable companies utilize Upwork to find and hire freelancers, including organizations such as Airbnb, Dropbox, Pfizer and Juniper Networks. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco, Chicago and Oslo, Norway.

For more information, visit our website at www.upwork.com, join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Inavero

Inavero is a global leader in human capital management research. The firm powers satisfaction and thought leadership studies for hundreds of top firms within the space and leverages more than 300,000 survey responses annually to provide insight into the millions who work in the gig economy and the companies who hire them. For more information, visit https://www.inavero.com/.


Katie Evans